Sunday, 10 April 2016

This week at Valley Press: 'Playing the fox'

Dear readers,

I sit here at the end of a particularly exhausting week, and realise that at no point during it did I do any work to move a Valley Press book closer to publication – but that's how it goes, sometimes. Since 2008, I've slowly discovered there's a lot more to the job of publisher than actually publishing. One day I even hope to come to terms with that...

Fortunately, someone has been getting work done, and I'm pleased to say this week will see the release of the first VP book overseen by Associate Editor Rosa Campbell. Though freelance designers and editors have come and gone over the years, this is the first title I haven't designed or edited, that I haven't worked on at all; the first book brought to the shelves entirely by Rosa (and the author – a familiar face, thank goodness). A significant milestone!

I asked Rosa to say a few words on this occasion, so over to her:

Good afternoon, VP family! It’s a beautiful sunny Sunday over here on the “West Coast,” and to make things even sunnier, the first Rosa-Campbell-edited-and-produced Valley Press book is just about ready to be launched into the wide, waiting world. And what a book it is! The second collection from the award-winning Patrick Lodge, Shenanigans (from the Irish sionnachuighim, meaning “I play the fox") is as cleverly crafted as the foxy friend on its back cover suggests (pictured above).
This highly-anticipated collection makes delightful use of wry remark and delicate wordplay, and is remarkable (I think!) for the interweaving of distinct landscapes and voices. Look out for poems about Mykonos and Cambodia, nestled next to a soaring, brilliant retrospective on the industrial past and commercial present of my hometown, Leeds. At once familiar and strange, Lodge’s poems are rich in detail and narrative – astute observations that transport the reader to a whole new world with each turn of the page. And, in keeping with VP tradition, I’ve tried very hard to design a cover that lives up to the book’s contents, with the wonderful help of illustration work by artist (and friend of the author), Denise Phelps. It’s a real ray of sunshine, and I really, really hope you guys enjoy this book as much as I’ve enjoyed working on it!

... which means we've got a natural choice for this week's half-price paperback: Patrick's first collection, An Anniversary of Flight, which you can save 50% on using the code 50FLIGHT. More from Rosa next week, with her second book. She's been busy!

Outside the office, me and Mrs McGarry managed to attend two poetry events in Scarborough; one a wonderful tribute to our own Nigel Gerrans (with Nigel as the star guest) and the late, great Chris Woodland, whose work you may know from A Pocketful of Windows. It was a rare chance to hear the life's work of these two extraordinary poets, and a real achievement by the readers, deserving of a mention here.

The other event, a performance poetry night at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, couldn't have been more different ... suffice to say, it ended with a rambling two-hour set from a somewhat tipsy legend, which very nearly turned into a drunken brawl (and I'm sure resulted in some injuries) but was worth three times the ticket price. Both events were thoroughly unforgettable.

Of course, I also found time to hear Di Slaney on Woman's Hour (34 minutes in on the link, don't miss it!), and produce part four of my series of articles. The longest (and let's be honest, dullest) installment yet, part four is all about pricing books, the economics of printing and what to do about business overheads. It does answer the question of why poetry books cost more than prose, though (sort of), and there's a cat photo...

I'm going to try and get something constructive done now – wish me luck!

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

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